Fats play an important role in a healthy, balanced diet, as they are needed for many chemical processes in the body. We certainly should not avoid them – rather the opposite! Let us have a look at five nutritious fats that should definitely not be missing from our diet.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut products offer a wide variety of benefits for our body. Coconut oil is great not just for cooking, baking, and frying but is also a great addition to cocktails, oat flakes, and other foods. This fat has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-cancer effects. It improves digestion and nutrient absorption and keeps the intestines healthy. It protects the heart and blood vessels and helps manage type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, it keeps the kidneys and the liver healthy, the immune system functional, and last but not least improves the metabolism and supplies energy. Coconut oil is composed mainly of saturated fatty acids, but unlike animal fats it does not contain any cholesterol. The fatty acids contained in it are medium-chain triglycerides that are easy to metabolize and are a rich energy source. Research implies that these saturated acids help with losing weight and increasing HDL levels (the ‘good cholesterol’) in the body.
Nuts contain a lot of nutrients, healthy fats, and proteins. They are one of the best sources of alpha-Linolenic acid and omega-3 acids. Those offer many health benefits – they lower cholesterol and prevent diseases, among others.
Nuts are also rich in the L-arginine amino acid, which has been proved to improve the functioning of the immune system, support the healing of wounds, strengthen blood vessels, and treat cardiovascular diseases. Apart from that, nuts contain water-soluble fiber and vitamin E. The fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, while vitamin E is a strong antioxidant, which is vital for keeping the immune system, skin, and DNA healthy. Popular types of nuts are for example almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. Try them in smoothies or salads or just eat them raw. Another way is to try some of the various nut butters available, but these do not mix well with fruit, so take care not to combine these two.
A fantastic fruit with many nutritious benefits, avocado is an excellent source of glutathione – a strong antioxidant that helps clean and protect the body from the inside. It also eliminates heavy metals and combats free radicals, helps keep the immune system healthy, and slows down the aging process. Avocado is also rich in folic acid, which has been proved to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also a good source of vitamin E, which protects us against many diseases and helps to keep us healthy overall. Avocados are not only nutritious – studies have shown that some other nutrients are also more easily absorbed when consumed together with avocado. In the kitchen, one might use avocado as a substitute for butter, for making spreads or as a salad or cocktail ingredient.
Just like nuts, seeds also contain many beneficial substances – mainly proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Apart from that, there are also many minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Incorporating flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or chia seeds into one’s diet is thus a very good idea. Hemp seeds are widely considered one of the best ‘superfoods,’ thanks to their extremely high nutrition content. They are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even richer than flax seeds. They are packed with antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. They contain up to twenty different amino acids and from that, eight are essential (the body cannot create them on its own). A handful of hemp seeds a day will provide you with many necessary nutrients you need.
Olive oil can be used in various ways either internally or externally. It can be added to salads and dressings, used for pickling, cooking, and baking (watch out for higher temperatures, though), or for treating the skin. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, and vitamin E. It lowers blood pressure, protects against cancer, manages diabetes and mitigates asthma and arthritis. It makes the stomach work more smoothly, stimulates the appetite and bile production, and lowers the risk of heart and vascular disease. It supports digestion and the absorption of fats – that is why it can be of great help when one is trying to lose weight.